We are presenting the second part of our interview with Rafael Barajas Durán. The first part of the interview dealt with the issue of drug trafficking, and ended with Barajas saying that the Mexican government is “trying to rescue national sovereignty in regards to security”.
The concept of ‘national sovereignty’ stands in the very center of the second part of the interview below. The third one will deal with the relation between national sovereignty and the Mexican President López Obrador’s proposal to create a free trade zone covering the whole American continent.
For those readers who missed the first part: Rafael Barajas Durán, better known as El Fisgón, is since 2018 President of the National Institute for Political Education (INFP). Part of MORENA, Mexico’s governing party, the INFP is responsible for political education of both party members and the general public, at the same time contributing to MORENA’s political theory and strategy development.
Since the 1980s, Barajas has been working as a political cartoonist too. He has published several books with political caricatures. He publishes frequently in Mexico’s leading daily newspaper La Jornada. He has drawn the cartoons below.
How would you describe Mexico’s President Andrés Manuel López Obrador? Who is he?
I think he is a fighter for democracy. He is actually a fighter for society, for social rights, who then became President of the Republic. He comes from the oppressed sectors of society.
López Obrador has inherited the most important traditions of Mexican politics.
He proposed the Fourth Transformation. This seems to be quite an ambitious program.
Yes and no. Mexico is one of the few countries in the world that has gone through 3 big transformations in its history. One of the few countries. Take for instance Spain. They have not even completed one, and therefore, still have a king.
In these transformations, the Mexican people have fought for transcending causes: During the war of independence (1810 – 1821), we fought for sovereignty. During the Reform War (1858 – 1861), we fought for the liberty of thought and against the dogma. During the Mexican Revolution (1910 – 1917), we fought for social rights.
The Fourth Transformation is the summary of all these struggles: The struggle for sovereignty, freedom of thought, social rights and the reestablishment of the welfare state.
And all the goals of struggles given in the 20th century are also present here: the cause of democracy, of freedom of press, the struggle of women, for sexual diversity, the causes of indigenous people.
Hence, this movement – and I am referring to MORENA as a movement rather then a classical political party – has a historic perspective. Without such a perspective, it would not be of any use. What is a movement good for if does not change what’s going bad in society.
Now, the third transformation, the Mexican Revolution, was very profound. Remember it was the first social revolution of the planet.
It paved the way to a social pact that was enshrined in the constitution of 1917. This pact was in force until the 1970s/1980s and the entrance of neoliberalism into Mexican politics – so, until quite recently.
Therefore, the struggle for the Fourth Transformation connects deeply with the Mexican people: Almost everybody has a relative that fought with Benito Juárez (Reform War, YS.) or that took part in the Mexican Revolution.
At the same time, the Fourth Transformation is part of the struggles that are fought all over the Latin American world against the dictates of the so-called free market.
What united all the progressive movements in Latin America is the following: They are all projects of national salvation.
They all seek to save the nation, to reinstate the nation-state with its primary function: to protect the citizens.
And that is exactly what López Obrador is doing: saving the energy sovereignty, trying to construct a system of universal health care and reestablish the welfare system, so that the people do not suffer that much.
Which will the next steps within the Fourth Transformation?
What comes next is the presidential succession. (Mexico is heading to presidential elections in 2024, YS.) In order to continue, the Fourth Transformation needs some things: 1. A government program that guarantees the continuity. 2. An evaluation of the remains of the former, neoliberal regime. All the institutions that were created during that regime will disappear, for instance the privately held Commission for Energy.
We must reform legal institutions and the judicial apparatus as well as the electoral system. We need to make a deep democratic reform.
Is the Fourth Transformation at the same time Mexico’s answer to a potential global economic crisis?
Potential global crisis? The crisis is already there, right in front of us. The neoliberal model that has governed the world has brought humanity at the edge of unseen crisis: Entire economies are being destroyed. We observe unseen levels of migration. We are facing a climate change and en ecological crisis.
You mentioned neoliberalism as anti-thesis of the Fourth Transformation. Is there still any neoliberalism left in the world to fight against?
Let me take a step back here. In the 18th century, nation-states were established that protected territories and certain parts of the population. These states were undoubtedly the main obstacles against expansive policies of imperial powers. Empires grew at the expense of nation-states.
Now, the neoliberal model is one of economic globalization of the free market that gives birth to a specific form of imperialism. And this model has constructed its own supranational organizations that have a great weight in our countries. Politically there are the UN, the OAS, and the G20 etc. Economically, we face the IMF and the World Bank, among others. And militarily, there is the NATO, which has recently caused so many problems in Europe.
All these organizations have great influence into our nations and politics. And their existence is the reason why all progressive movements in Latin America are projects of national salvation: The nation-state is, or can be, the first line of defense for the people.
As long as organizations like the IMF and NATO exist, it makes sense to defend the nation-state.